Anglo-Saxon Saints' Lives as History Writing in Late Medieval England

April 2015
2 black and white illustrations
260 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
ISBN: 9781843844020
Format: Hardback
Library eBook
BISAC LIT011000, REL011000

Anglo-Saxon Saints' Lives as History Writing in Late Medieval England

Cynthia Turner Camp

A groundbreaking assessment of the use medieval English history-writers made of saints' lives.
The past was ever present in later medieval England, as secular and religious institutions worked to recover (or create) originary narratives that could guarantee, they hoped, their political and spiritual legitimacy. Anglo-Saxon England, in particular, was imagined as a spiritual "golden age" and a rich source of precedent, for kings and for the monasteries that housed early English saints' remains.
This book examines the vernacular hagiography produced in a monastic context, demonstrating how writers, illuminators, and policy-makers used English saints (including St Edmund) to re-envision the bonds between ancient spiritual purity and contemporary conditions. Treating history and ethical practice as inseparable, poets such as Osbern Bokenham, Henry Bradshaw, and John Lydgate reconfigured England's history through its saints, engaging with contemporary concerns about institutional identity, authority, and ethics.

Cynthia Turner Camp is an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Georgia.

An e-book version of this title is available (9781782044666), to libraries through a number of trusted suppliers. See here for a full list of our partners.

Table of Contents

Edith of Wilton and the Writing of Women's History
Audrey Abroad: Spiritual and Genealogical Filiation in the Middle English Lives of Etheldreda
Henry Bradshaw's Life of Werburge and the Limits of Holy Incorruption
The Limits of Narrative History in the Written and Pictorial Lives of Edward the Confessor
The Limits of Poetic History in Lydgate's Edmund and Fremund and the Harley 2278 Pictorial Cycle


[A] very engaging and useful book that will be helpful to scholars in many areas of medieval studies, especially those working in Middle English hagiography or historiography. JOURNAL OF ENGLISH AND GERMANIC PHILOLOGY

Highly detailed and carefully argued, Camp's study succeeds in showing how the creators of these lives manipulated not only historical narrative and perceptions of time, but also poetic form and hagiographic discourses to construct institutional identities and address audiences both within and without the monastery walls. SPECULUM

[O]ffers interesting new ways of looking at the nature of late medieval English hagiographic literature and innovative paths of inquiry for hagiographic and memory studies. THE MEDIEVAL REVIEW

Author Bio

Assistant Professor of English, University of Georgia

Related Titles